Saturday, January 29, 2011

Finishing up in Jersey

My last night in NJ, Bill and his family came over--Patty cooked dinner, we played games and hung out, but first Alex and Becca accompanied me to a little celebration for my cousin Ruth Ann's granddaughter Sarah who had just completed her RN. I knew that several of my cousins would be there and wanted to say hi before I left town.

The girls did not really know most of this group but they were good sports and made the rounds with me.
My cousin Wynne, whom I haven't seen in many years. Actually, his mom is my cousin so he's my first cousin once-removed. My dad was the youngest of 8 so I have cousins who have kids near my age. :)

My cousin Ruth Ann and her ex-sister in law Pat, still considered family. :)

Congratulations, Sarah! She is now 20 and I probably last saw her when she was about 3. My daughter Susan was flower girl at her parents' wedding.

Ruth Ann's youngest son Jay and his partner John. I haven't seen Jay since he was a teenager, I don't think, but we reconnected on Facebook last year. He used to love helping take care of my daughter Sarah when she was a baby.

Ruth Ann and her husband Rick

Their oldest son Richard, Sarah's dad. Hard for me to believe he has a 20 year old daughter when I remember him as a kid. We had fun chatting with everyone and then headed back to the house for a big game of LIFE.

The next day, Bill's family came over to say goodbye. Patty and Mom drove me to Newark to catch my plane while Bill stayed home to write a paper and watch the kids.

My sweet nieces and nephew--I had a great time with them!

Mom with Bill and me. She's feeling good and doing very well, thankfully!

My sister in law Patty, her kids and me

My flight from Newark to Seattle was uneventful and I spent the night at the Coast Gateway for $45 on priceline. I should be the spokesperson for priceline, really! The hotel was very nice, close to the airport and had a shuttle--what more did I need since I got there late enough that all I wanted to do was sleep anyway? I didn't have the dreaded early flight to Anchorage so even got to rest up a bit. On Monday I flew from Seattle to Anchorage and made my way to Pen Air for the flight home. We left a little bit late and stopped in King Salmon for fuel. We got about halfway home and the flight attendant came on to say that the conditions in Unalaska were "below minimums" so we had to divert to Cold Bay. After a bumpy landing in Cold Bay, we had to fight the wind and rain to walk to the terminal and began grumbling to one another that we were probably going to have to go back to Anchorage. Not only was the weather terrible, but it was almost getting to be too late to land in Unalaska (visual flight rules only). Surprisingly, we loaded back up pretty quickly and started for home. After my last two landings here, I was really nervous with the weather and kept telling myself that everything would be fine. I even pulled out the AK Air magazine and forced myself to read so I wouldn't think about the landing too much. Occasionally I glanced out the window to try to ascertain where we were and whether we were actually coming down or just circling around. Seriously, I was still convinced we were gonna have to fly all the way back to Anchorage, especially since it was on the verge of dark, but the next thing I knew, we were on the approach. The landing was no biggie after all. Whew! I was so happy to be here and to see Rich waiting! My suitcase didn't make it in but that seemed minor by then. :)

It was really good to be with Mom and my siblings for a few weeks. Now we are all excited about renting houses near each other for a week in Ocean City in July. It's gonna be a blast with 40 or more of us if everyone makes it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Having Big Fun

Mom is doing better and better every day. January 18th was her 80th birthday! Since she was still recovering from surgery, we did not have a big bash but a small quiet gathering with my brother's family. But she's looking good, huh?!

Bill and Mom

My brother demonstrating his skills to his children. Yes, he can balance a can of whipped cream on his bald head. Very talented.

Alex, Becca and Billy


Patty made an angel food cake, which we all promptly demolished. Happy birthday, Mom!

We've had several visitors since Mom started feeling better. My cousin Pat stopped by and had us laughing in no time. We are close to the same age and hung out together when we saw each other as kids. She grew up here in Jersey while I was traveling around as an AF brat. But during vacations and the two years we lived at McGuire AFB, she and I were good friends. It's funny how we all have different perspectives. When we were kids, I was always a little envious that she and her four sisters lived right here and had our grandparents "all to themselves." She says they were a little envious of us because we'd breeze in for a vacation and "get all the attention." LOL Anyway, when the girls' dad and I lived here for a couple of years while I was in grad school, we hung out with Pat and her husband Jack and always had a lot of fun. I don't know what it is about my family but many on both sides are just hilarious. They are all very smart, witty, and clever.

This is my cousin Ruth Ann,who is also hilarious. Pat is my cousin on my mom's side and Ruth Ann is on my dad's side. Ruth Ann is a little older so I did not hang out with her much growing up (they were cool teenagers when I was a wanna be). But during the time that we lived in NJ as adults, we also did a lot with Ruth Ann and her husband Rick. They and their four kids loved to babysit Sarah when she was an infant and toddler. We had lots of fun times eating dinner at their house and sitting around talking about life. I love going back to NJ and seeing family!
We've been pretty busy all week! Mom's visiting nurse, Ed, came by on Monday and "couldn't believe" she was the patient. She had fourteen staples in her abdomen and something got us started on that old Burl Ives song that goes "16 tons and what do you get? Another year older and deeper in debt..." On the spot, we made up a song that went like this:

14 staples and what do you get?

80 years old and deeper in debt

St. Peter, don't you call me cuz I might be shy

I owe my soul to the colon-rectal guy

You would have thought Ed was going to bust a gut. He said he would be singing that song in his head all day long. Of course, we thought we were pretty clever and funny but not as funny as he was making it out to be. He told us we should sing it for Mom's surgeon when we went in on Wednesday. Which we did. We have no shame. He laughed, but not nearly as hard as Ed. Maybe we offended him with the "owe my soul" line.
The surgeon removed the 14 staples and pronounced Mom in good shape. She's been craving a salad for weeks so he told her she could finally have one. She was feeling so great that she wanted to go to Olive Garden and have soup and salad, so off we went.

Today my nephew Billy was at preschool and his sisters at school so we took my sister in law Patty out to lunch to thank her for all she does for Mom. It was a nice girls' lunch and Mom did great on her second day out of the house. When we got home, some of the women in her Red Hat group stopped by to wish her a happy birthday and a speedy recovery since she missed their monthly luncheon.

Yes, they made me put on a hat! Mom and her sister, my Aunt Jeannette (my cousin Pat's mom)

Fun friends in funny hats :)

The 18th was also my 6th wedding anniversary. You know I have a great husband when I can miss two anniversaries in a row (last year I was in Houston with Emery) and he is a sweetheart about it. He's the best! Happy anniversary, Rich!
So my days are winding down here and I am feeling better about leaving Mom. I'm heading for Newark on Sunday and will be home on Monday evening. Oh yeah, I'd better priceline that room in Seattle!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hello from New Jersey

It's been kind of a whirlwind here and I haven't had time to post! I left Unalaska on Jan. 5th, flew overnight to Seattle, hung out in the SEA TAC airport for a few hours and then flew on to Newark on the morning of the 6th. Long flights, etc., etc., etc.; by now you know the drill. :) Got to Newark and caught the Amtrak to Philly. You might recall the summer that Aidan and I had our little adventure flying into Newark and trying to catch the train. Click here for the story if you want to review. This time, I am happy to report that I not only found the elevator, I also encountered a very helpful clerk who took care of my ticket with a smile, there were seats available on the train, the conductor was nice, and my suitcase fit in the bin. Whew! My sister Kathi, sister in law Patty and 5 year old nephew Billy met me at the Philadelphia station to bring me to Mom's. Patty said that Billy was standing at the top of the escalator watching for me till someone came along with paper conductor hats and distracted him. For the rest of the night, he wore his hat and let us know that he was "in charge." Trying to make conversation with him in the car, I asked "So what have you been up to?" He replied (as if he wondered what was wrong with me) "Waiting for YOU!" haha

Mom had her surgery on Jan. 3 and was still in the hospital when I arrived. Our days were mostly spent going back and forth to the hospital and checking on her till she finally came home on the evening of the 10th. We thought she'd be coming home lots sooner but they had to deal with a few issues so it took awhile longer. Needless to say, we were glad to bring her home. My sister was supposed to leave on the 10th but she extended her stay a few more days, and my brother Joe flew in from Jackson Hole on the 10th.

One morning, Kathi and I met my brother Bill and his family for breakfast at a diner. I have decided that "diner" is definitely an East Coast word. I have never heard of a diner in Texas or Alaska. That's my niece Abby above, with her little brother, the aforementioned Billy.

And their other two siblings, Becca and Alexandra (Alex)

Billy, my sister in law Patty and my sister Kathi, who lives in San Antonio. Yes, we are all scattered to the four winds.

My brother Bill and his girls

Becca, Alex and Aunt Jane

Awwww, sweet daddy/son love

My brother is an RN and works in the ER. He has a warped sense of humor which keeps us all laughing. Actually, all of us have a similar sense of humor, including my mom. The floor nurses called us "The Giggle Committee" because there was always so much laughter coming out of Mom's room. They all wanted to join us.

We were hit with a big snow while Mom was still in the hospital. My sister, who's lived in San Antonio for the bigger part of her adult life, made me do the driving since "you're from Alaska and are used to snow." I did inform her that I might drive in snow but we sure don't have much traffic back home. Luckily, the NJ road crews did a good job and we didn't end up with any funny stories to tell. This is my Mom's house.

Snow dusted trees

We have mostly stayed close to home but my brother Joe hung out with Mom one afternoon while Kathi and I went sledding with Becca and Alex.

It was FREEZING outside. Kathi and I thought our fingers and toes would break off. Meanwhile, Alex and Becca were having a ball and didn't want to leave.

Yes, I took a turn on the little sled, which barely had room for me. I am happy to report that I made it to the bottom of the hill without wiping out, and I didn't break a hip or an ankle or an arm.

The sun was going down, which made it even colder for us old fogeys.

Snow girls!
Kathi takes her turn and also does very well. We grannies rock!

My brother Joe
Mom is doing better and better every day. She's a little unsteady on her feet and has a visiting nurse and a physical therapist coming in, but she's getting her appetite back and has been up and dressed and feeling pretty well. Kathi left on Thursday and Joe left this morning. I decided to extend my stay another week just to make sure Mom is okay to be by herself. We are having fun and she doesn't let much keep her down. She sees her surgeon on Wed. to get her staples out and then we will see what's next.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy 2011 to all! I wanted to post something on 1-1-11 just because it sounds so cool but our internet was down most of yesterday. Since many of you seem to feel I have an internet addiction, you can imagine how bummed out I was. On the other hand, I did accomplish some tasks that have fallen by the wayside, such as sweeping floors and throwing bathroom rugs into the wash.

My coworker Pipa is very creative, enthusiastic, full of fun, and endlessly upbeat. She is always looking for new and interesting things for us to do. Right now, she's busy preparing for our Channel 8 fundraising auction in February and decided she wanted to invite everyone in the community to come to an outdoor "Wii Just Dance" party in the parking lot behind our building, all to be videotaped for the auction. (Last year, she had a bunch of people doing a "Bollywood" type dance in the rain--I was out of town and missed that one!) So we put out the word and had a good crowd of kids and parents show up on Thursday night for our dance party.
Everyone had a blast!
Lining up and getting ready

Tonya, Erin and I were part of the "Mom" section in the back, where we had a big ole time, but were doing our best just to keep up. I am hoping I don't show up on the video--not the most coordinated person in the world. Pipa promises she will edit to show our best moves.

Board member Melanie was cheered up by the fun--her son left to go back to college that day so she was in need of a diversion.

New Year's Eve was pretty quiet--Rich and I both worked all day and then went out to dinner at the Chart Room. We had a nice meal and the added bonus of friends Kristine and Joe joining us during the dessert portion. Kristine always makes me laugh!

I mentioned to Rich that I liked these cute bird plates so he got them for me for Christmas. Aren't they cheerful? Maybe I am pining for spring already and they make me happy.

Our photo printer takes up too much space on our small square kitchen table, or else is banished to the floor, so I ordered this side table to use for printing materials and equipment. We put it together last night. It is not very well made but it's too much hassle to send it back and they only charged me $20 for shipping to Alaska, so I will just hang onto it. It serves its purpose. :)

We were both off for New Year's Day and had a restful day at home. A few chores, a nap, a movie ("500 Days of Summer"--pretty cute), Rich's homemade turkey/rice soup.

I am leaving on Wednesday for a couple of weeks in New Jersey. My mom is having surgery tomorrow but I couldn't get out of here any sooner. One of my brothers lives near Mom and my sister from San Antonio has been in NJ since the 25th of December so Mom's in good hands. She's feeling okay and everyone's just hanging out waiting for the surgery for the most part. It will be good to be there and to help out after surgery. Hopefully all will be well and I will be posting from there as I can.

Happy New Year, everyone!